Microsoft and the Computer History Museum have both announced today that the historic MS-DOS and Word for Windows source code are now available to the public for the very first time. These important pieces of source code (as well as history) will be preserved and made available to the community for historical and technical scholarship.
“On Tuesday, we dusted off the source code for early versions of MS-DOS and Word for Windows. With the help of the Computer History Museum, we are making this code available to the public for the first time,” Microsoft stated in an official blog post. The museum will have MS-DOS 1.1, MS-DOS 2.0, and Microsoft Word for Windows 1.1a.
In 1980, IBM approached Microsoft to work on a project codenamed “Chess” and Microsoft eventually provided the BASIC language interpreter for IBM. Microsoft was then asked to create an operating system for IBM, and the company eventually licenses an operating system from Seattle Computer Products, which would become the foundation for MS-DOS.
The Redmond giant’s DOS-based version of Word was not a success against WordPerfect, the software that dominated the word processing market at the time. In 1989, Microsoft released Word for Windows, which generated over half the worldwide word processing market revenue in just four years from its launch.
“We think preserving historic source code like these two programs is key to understanding how software has evolved from primitive roots to become a crucial part of our civilization,” says Len Shustek, Computer History Museum Chairman.
The Computer History Museum is located in Mountain View, California.